Centre plan for those in suicide crisis

Participants at a previous Pieta House Darkness Into Light event.
Participants at a previous Pieta House Darkness Into Light event.
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Plans are being developed to open a new cross-border facility to help people in the North West who are feeling suicidal, it has emerged.

Two 5km Darkness Into Light fundraising walk and runs are be staged in Derry and Buncrana next month to help raise funds for the new facility, which will be set up and operated by Pieta House.

The event in Derry will take place on Saturday, May 7 from the quayside next to Sainsbury’s Cafe. The route will proceed across the Peace Bridge and then return. It will start at 4.15am, to coincide with the rising of the sun.

The Buncrana event will take place at the same time on the same day, starting off and finishing at Scoil Mhuire, Convent of Mercy.

Pieta House already has nine facilities across the Republic and provides free treatment to those with suicidal tendencies and those who are self harming. The Irish charity has also just opened another centre in New York. The charity has committed to opening a centre locally in early 2017, with the location expected to be in Donegal. Money raised during the two events will be used to help fund the running costs.

Tom McEvoy, Pieta House Funding and Advocacy Officer said they were very well aware of the need for such a service in the North West, following a string of suicide tragedies across Derry and Donegal over recent years. The number of deaths has prompted a massive campaign over the past few years for better crisis intervention facilities, with tens of thousands signing petitions and joining rallies in support of this. The Action for Hope social network group was established to help support fundraising for a Pieta Housing in the north west.

Mr McEvoy said: “We have been endeavouring to expand in the last three years in the North West, and in particular we have been working with a group in Donegal, and there are people in the North who have come to us with a view to helping and supporting us to create Pieta House in the North West region.

“Every day of the week you hear about tragedies, it is shocking, and it is devastating for the families left behind. Suicide knows no borders.

“Our organisation is purely focused on preventing suicide. We have worked with over 6,000 people last year alone in the nine centres. These are people who are dealing with a crisis in their lives and we help them come to terms with that and help them see that there is hope. It is all done in a very positive way. We are really trying to expand to where we can help.”

Speaking about the local events, Mr McEvoy added: “We are hoping for a good show at the walks. People will be walking around in yellow T-shirts and the aim is to create a beautiful, bright joyous occasion as the sun (hopefully) comes through.”

Pieta House has helped over 18,000 people to date in Ireland and everything is free of charge. Staff are fully qualified and provide a professional one-to-one therapeutic service for people who are experiencing suicidal ideation, people who have attempted suicide and people who are engaging in self-harm. A doctor’s referral or a psychiatric report is not required. The charity is 85% funded by donations from the community. To register for a walk/run go to www.dil.pieta.ie.

Any individual or group who wishes to help support the development of the North West Pieta House can contact Tom at: tom@pieta.ie.